Setting off to my very first festival alone, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing. To be completely honest, I was scared. Scared enough that, tucked away in my ridiculously heavy rucksack, alongside shorts, sandals and cans of Strongbow, was a padlock. I planned on locking my tent with it at all time. So, I wasn’t exactly throwing myself into the experience with wild abandon.
I’m a worrier by nature and I’d spent the week before the festival fretting about every little detail. My biggest worry was meeting people. “People go to festivals with their friends”, I told myself. “They aren’t going to want to pick up a straggler.” I had visions of myself arriving at the gates, contemplating the scene and turning right back around.
I’d signed up to volunteer at the festival
As is so often the case, the reality turned out to be very, very different — and much better than I could have imagined. I’m so glad I faced up to my fears.
I’d signed up to volunteer at the festival after splitting up with a partner; my summer of staring into each other’s eyes had magically transformed into a summer of staring at my face in the mirror. The break up had come as a massive shock, splintering my self-esteem. Breaking well and truly out of my comfort zone seemed like a good way of trying to piece it back together again.
We picked up more revellers who were just as keen to be friends
That said, my fears and anxieties weren’t enough to actually stop me setting foot on the ferry to the Isle of Wight. Arriving in Cowes, it became pretty clear my fear of meeting new people and making friends was unfounded. As I was getting off the ferry, someone asked me if I was volunteering (a massive rucksack and wellies gave it away). And, just like that, I’d made a connection.
For anyone else setting off on a new solo adventure and you want to make friends while doing so, my first tip is to attach yourself to someone with levels of confidence you wish you had. Their outgoing nature will help you make all kinds of new friends and meet a variety of people. You can piggyback on their skills until you have a bit more confidence of your own.
As we made our way to the site, we picked up some more revellers who were just as keen to be friends. I felt my worries start to melt away. After that, my initial fears didn’t return once over the entire festival (until I saw the dreaded queue to leave, that is).
Meeting new people gave me a massive boost
Once we’d arrived, me, my ferry friend and the group we’d accumulated on the bus made our way to our campsite. I stuck with my new friend all the way through the volunteer briefing. By the end, we’d met so many new people that I lost count. Far from being alone, I’d found a group to camp with and even people to help pitch my tent.
Over the next few days, I got to know my fellow campers better and meet new people on my volunteering shifts. But, crucially, I also ventured off to stages to see musicians solo.
Meeting new people gave me a massive boost. After my break up, I’d felt that I wasn’t good enough. But here were all these kind, funny people wanting to be my friends. My confidence levels were low before and I’d been dreading starting a conversation with someone. But by the end, I knew I could happily chat away about anything from tent pegs to instant noodles with anyone.
There are some obvious perks to doing a festival alone
More than the friendships I made, I took something away from the festival which has stuck with me ever since. Even if I hadn’t met anyone, and even if I had needed that padlock on my tent, it would have been OK. In fact, it still would have been fun. Some of the best moments I had at the festival were when I was on my own. I explored the sprawling site, its amazing art installations, rolling fields, food-truck zones and, of course, music tents, alone. And I found my own fun while doing it.
There are some obvious perks to doing a festival alone. One of them being that you don’t have to indulge other people’s taste in music. But it also reminds you of the joy of your own company and the value of doing things for enjoyment’s sake alone. I’m a bit of a people-pleaser by nature so, for me, a festival filled with things I wanted to see and do for myself was a revelation.
There’s something in the atmosphere at a festival that whether totally alone, with new friends or old, it’s hard not to have fun and embrace a more carefree version of yourself. Even if you only do it once, it’s worth doing just to know you can.
It gave me strength to overcome my fears
Thanks to my solo festival experience, I know making new friends starts with a simple conversation, that I don’t need anyone else to have an unforgettable experience and that nothing cements a new connection like watching the sunrise stumbling back to your tent.
In fact, doing a festival alone gave me strength to overcome my fears and embrace the joy of new adventure. It restored my confidence, gave me a whole new lease of life and – cheesy as it sounds – made me a better version of myself. Not bad for a few days in a field.
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